Shattered Horizon Hands-On Preview

Written by Joe Martin

September 7, 2009 | 10:22

Tags: #gravity #hands-on #moon #preview #shattered-horizon #space #vantage #zero-g

Companies: #futuremark #gamescom

To The Moon

Shattered Horizon is a different game – we said that at the start, but it’s worth reiterating that again here as there are certain parts of the game that are difficult to get your head around.

That’s especially true when you realise how well-realised and graphically polished the game is from a stylistic perspective. The actual character models and weapons may be a bit blasé, but the subtler elements of Shattered Horizon are a tour de force – like the way the lighting engine works slightly differently to normal and reflects a stranger and somewhat ‘naked’ quality of light across the orbital terrains.

The game looks great and has far off echoes of a semi-decent story attached to it too, with a streamlined layout and weapons system...yet, strangely, it’s a multiplayer-only game that’ll support up to 32 players across a variety of different game modes.

Shattered Horizon Hands-On Preview Shattered Horizon Impressions
Click to enlarge

And that’s weird because, from our time with Shattered Horizon it feels like FutureMark have missed a trick here and could’ve created a truly interesting and compelling singleplayer mode too, complementing the truly breathtaking level design with some equally decent boss fights and narrative.

It’s an odd thing to say admittedly; that a game may work better as singleplayer than multiplayer, but that was very much the feeling we got from our time with Shattered Horizon. The levels were beautiful and complex, just like the core mechanics of the game and the whole thing seemed more suited to small, more personal battles with identifiable opponents. There’s so much open space (haha) that we can easily see 32-player multiplayer battles becoming too chaotic or degenerating into sniper-fests.

Of course, the strength of going for a multiplayer-only design is that Shattered Horizon can become a really compelling team game. Already we’re practically salivating at the types of battles one could have within the framework that FutureMark has created – we’re dizzy at the notion of spiralling on every aspect, chasing enemies through clouds of water miles above the earth and jetpacking through half-destroyed asteroids as fast as we can.

Shattered Horizon Hands-On Preview Shattered Horizon Impressions
Click to enlarge

We’ll admit; we are a tad worried for Shattered Horizon and something tells us it may not make as big a splash in the market as it would seem to warrant. There’s little hype around it and, if judged at first glance, then the idea isn’t visually distinct or appealing enough to pull people away from the likes of Team Fortress 2.

It seems particularly ambitious of FutureMark to be aiming to launch Shattered Horizon in the coveted Q4 2009 slot too – there are much, much bigger games that have already been delayed into Q1 2010 purely to avoid having to compete with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. It’s entirely possible that there’ll only be room for one multiplayer game in what’s left for this year and it likely won’t be Shattered Horizon.

Which is unfortunate, because chatting to the team at GamesCom and taking a look at the game in detail makes it obvious that an awful lot of thought and effort and love have gone into Shattered Horizon. On top of that it’s a fun and interesting game, which is trying something new and refreshing. Perhaps a bit too much thought has gone into some aspects (reality aside, some extra weapons would be a nice way to relieve the monotony), but it still looks promising and we’re very much looking forward to the full release, even if it does get overshadowed by the bigger publishers.

Shattered Horizon is being developed by FutureMark and is currently in closed beta, but should be out by the end of the year.
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